Hands-On Activities for Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya

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Hands-On Activities for Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya from Valarie at LibraryAdventure.com

We recently picked up a wonderful book from the Blount County library, this wonderful Kenyan Tale called, “Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya” by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, Illustrated by Julia Cairns.

This beautiful heart warming story shares the great message of “give and you shall receive.“ As Mama Panya and her young son Adika walk to the market, Adika invites every friend he meets to come and eat pancakes with him and his mother.

Having barely enough money to feed herself and her son, how will Mama Panya ever cook enough pancakes for everyone? Luckily, all the guests arrive with food gifts to further extend the feast.

The illustrations captivated my children with their bold colors, vivid patterns, and lush Kenyan scenery. It’s as if we were walking along with Mama Panya and Adika to market.

We thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it several times. We also enjoyed the recipe for Mama Panya’s pancakes. In the back of the book there is a map of Kenya, details of daily life, and facts about the Kenyan language called Kiswahili and general facts about Kenya.

“Mama Panya’s Pancakes” makes for a fantastic read aloud. The text is written in little boxes making it easy for young readers to follow along or take a turn reading out loud themselves.

Somethings To Do

Make a batch of Mama Panya’s Pancakes


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes


  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients with a fork.
  2. Preheat a nonstick pan at a medium to low setting.
  3. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the batter to about the size of a grapefruit.
  4. Cook until you see tiny bubbles in the pancake, then gently flip it over.
  5. When the second side begins to pop up from the heat, the pancake is ready.

Serving Suggestions

You can fill your pancake with jam, tuna or chicken salad, seasoned hamburger or roasted nuts. Anything at all will do. Place your filling on one half and then roll it up and eat it.

Kenyan Animal and Tree Guessing Game


In the back of the book there is a section called Walking to Market. We photocopied both pages from the book, cut out the animal or tree, glued it to an index card. On the other side of the index card we wrote the African name. Turn the cards with the African name facing you and try and guess what it means.

Learn Kiswahili Greetings

Excerpt from Mama Panya’s Pancakes: “Kenyans speak many languages, but the main ones are Kiswahili and English………Kiswahili means “speaking the language of the coast people.” Kiswahili is a mixture of Bantu, a native African language, and Arabic, a Middle Eastern language.”

It isn’t uncommon for people like Adika and the people living in his village to speak three languages. Greetings are expected when you meet someone. Otherwise you will be considered rude. A simple hello is said like this in Kiswahili, “Jambo”. There are many more greetings at the back of the book. Take some time to enjoy saying them. The pronunciations are all there to make things easy for you.

This simple and engaging story leads to many days of fun activities as we explore Kenya.

Find it in Your Library!

  • Title: Mama Panya’s Pancakes
  • Author: Mary and Rich Chamberlin
  • Illustrator: Julia Cairns
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books
  • Genre: Easy
  • ISBN: 1905236646
About Valarie Budayr

Valarie Budayr is an award winning, best-selling children’s book author, a reading and play advocate whose mission is to inspire children, families,and communities to experience and create together, and founder of the popular book website Jump into a Book, where the pages of our favorite children’s books come to life through activities and adventures. Valarie lives at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee with her three children, loving husband and two beloved cats. You can find Valarie at www.jumpintoabook.com


  1. loved reading it to my students:)

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